© marco garofalo


Médecins Sans Frontières runs a paediatric hospital in the Liberian capital, offering specialised care, including surgery, and supports health centres to make psychiatric treatment more accessible at community level.

Despite being a country of historic firsts, Liberia is sadly known for disastrous humanitarian emergencies. 

The West African country, home to just over four million people, is the continent’s oldest republic and the first African country to elect a female head of state.

But, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea, Liberia was pushed to the forefront of the world stage in 2014 as the devastating Ebola outbreak spiralled out of control. The outbreak came at a time when people were just beginning to put the catastrophic civil war behind them.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first began working in Liberia in 1990 in response to the civil war, which killed more than 250,000 people between 1989-2003.

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MSF’s work in Liberia: 2018

We opened Bardnesville Junction Hospital in Monrovia in 2015 to provide specialised care for children as the Liberian health system came under severe strain during the West African Ebola outbreak. 

Serving children aged between one month and 15 years old, the hospital receives some of the most critical paediatric cases from a large urban area of approximately one million people. In 2018, we admitted around 100 patients a week with conditions such as malaria, severe acute malnutrition, non-bloody diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections. The hospital has an emergency room, an intensive care unit, a paediatric ward and a nutrition ward, and is a certified clinical teaching site for Liberian nursing students. 

© Adolphus Mawolo/MSF

We opened a paediatric surgery programme at Bardnesville in January and performed 735 procedures during the year, including emergency interventions and common operations such as paediatric hernia repairs. Towards the end of the year, we built a second operating theatre to perform additional, subspecialised procedures not widely available in Liberia, such as reconstructive plastic surgery. 

Pierre Trobovic discusses his time in ELWA 3, the world's largest Ebola centre, on our Everyday Emergency podcast.

We also expanded our innovative mental health and epilepsy care programme around Monrovia, in Montserrado county. Building on a model established by the World Health Organization to make psychiatric care available at community level, we worked with the county health authorities to provide training, supervision and medication for staff in four primary health centres to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder, severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, as well as epilepsy. Teams of health volunteers and counsellors identified patients in their communities, supported their treatment at home and raised awareness about mental illness.

find out more in our international activity report >

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